Owning a dog first aid kit is crucial for a first-time owner, but it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what is needed. We have composed a dog first aid checklist so you can have one at home in case your pup isn’t feeling too well. Furthermore, these can be crucial in an emergency while taking your dog to the vet.
But what elements are actually needed in a first aid dog checklist and which should be left just to the professionals? We have listed every element you need along with when and how to use them. You can feel comfortable treating your dog from home when it is appropriate to do so and feel the confidence to do it correctly.
Dog First Aid Checklist
Here are all the items you will need to complete your dog first aid checklist. Find when and how to use them below along with any available substitutes. Also, we would like to make it clear that a vet will always know best and you should always consult them with any worries.
You may be wondering why paperwork is important when your dog is unwell or even in an emergency. Well, you can record emergency contacts such as the vet or even an on-call vet for when the practice is not open. You should also keep medical records and proof of vaccinations in here as it can help a vet narrow down what is causing your dog to act abnormally. You can grab your dog and their first aid kit, take them to the vet and show the documents quickly. This minimizes waiting time and prevents illnesses from worsening.
Gauze is a type of medical fabric that is made from cotton and allows for good quality ventilation. It is used to cover wounds and prevent them from healing or sticking to the material. Burns and open cuts will often stick to types of medical material which interferes with healing as it will stick to the wound and tear the scabbing when being removed. Gauze can often prevent this. Simply wrap the gauze around a wound, after applying any needed medication, so it is secure but not too tight. Then secure the gauze with medical tape, attach the end to the rest of the gauze.
Medical tape, also known as adhesive tape or surgical tape, is ideal for securing bandages and gauze around wounds. This tape is hypoallergenic and can prevent both humans and pups from having an allergic reaction to the tape in most cases. This is a great additional benefit as allergic reactions can interfere with healing as well as cause your dog to itch more at a wound. This would potentially remove scabbing, cause more bleeding, and even pain. Furthermore, this medical tape is breathable, which aids with overall healing as it prevents sweating which can lead to the build-up of bacteria which may cause infection.
Non- stick bandages can be applied over gauze (which is recommended) or by themselves. This is a soft cotton material that is great for covering a variety of wounds. This is often placed over gauze to allow some breath-ability but prevent the wound leaking or the dressing being easy to remove. It is usually made of cotton and is absorbent and breathable. To use the bandage you will want to wrap it around the wound after the gauze has been applied. Wrap it completely and firmly, although make sure it is not too tight as it can cut circulation. Tape the bandage to itself to secure it and you have successfully wrapped a wound.
You need to make sure that every element in your dog first aid checklist is contained. Having them spread about everywhere takes away one of the crucial points, ease of acquisition and use. A medicine box is a clearly labeled storage area for each part of the dog first aid kit. It should be large enough to include everything but small enough to be handheld as you may need to travel with it. You can use a storage box or container as a medicine box. However, make sure it is small enough and light enough to be handheld.
A thermometer exists to detect if a dog’s temperature is in the normal range or if they have a temperature. A dog’s natural temperature should be in the range of 101 and 102.5 F. Any higher than this temperature is a sign of a viral infection. When your dog is behaving oddly or showing signs of illness, you can take their temperature to see if they are running a fever. This can help you to understand what exactly is affecting them. Most commonly a rectal thermometer is used to take the temperature of a dog. You lube up the thermometer tip, gently slide it into your dog’s anus and wait until it measures their temperature.
Although it is not a necessity, a comfort item for your dog can help minimize their stress, help them feel better, and keep their illness from getting worse. High levels of stress can lead to a weakened immune system along with stress responses and an adrenaline release. Therefore, a dog with an injured leg may try to run on it if they are feeling a lot of anxiety.
Providing your dog with a blanket or toy that smells like you and their home can decrease their levels of stress. A new toy or blanket won’t have the same effect and may in fact increase stress levels during this time. Make sure to grab an old favorite of your dog’s to add to your dog’s first aid kit.
Safety scissors are useful when bandaging a wound. They allow you to cut away excess gauze and bandages. They also provide you the ease of cutting the correct length of tape to secure the gauze and bandages. Also, if you need to check a wound or remove hair from the site, safety scissors allow you to do so. But why are safety scissors important? Well we all know how much dogs can squirm and jump around normally, this can be doubled when they are unwell or in pain. Safety scissors allow you to avoid cutting your pup when you are trying to aid them.
Extra Leash and Collar
An extra leash and collar are well worth the investment. Perhaps your dog injured themselves climbing through bushes and tore their collar. This spare will allow you to prevent your dog from running away stressed and making things worse. Although you may not believe, even the sweetest pup may become aggressive when they are hurt or ill. Two leashes will allow you and a friend to help prevent either of you from being bitten, whilst still moving your pup to the vets. These are added cautionary elements in case something goes wrong, and they can truly be beneficial.
Cotton balls can be great for stopping minor bleeding, wiping a wound, and even applying meds in a more effective manner. They are truly a must-have in any dog first aid checklist. You can purchase a bag of cotton balls for cheap in many medical stores. The great benefit of cotton balls is that they are absorbent and soft. They are very useful for dogs with weeping eyes. Simply get the ball damp and wipe away any excess eye discharge. It can also be useful for applying ointment as you can dampen the ball, apply it, and wipe the ointment over any sensitive areas if it requires it.
When your dog has minor cuts or scrapes, you may be concerned that they could become infected. You can easily purchase antibiotic ointment at pet shops or online. You apply the recommended amount to the wound according to the instructions. Some wounds you cannot apply the ointment to and you should consult your vet if you have any worries. Gently coat the small wound or scrape with the ointment to prevent a bacterial infection from occurring. If the wound has any form of debris in it, make sure to gently remove this before application. You can do so with a cotton ball.
Although hydrogen peroxide can be a great tool to induce vomiting if your dog needs to, never do so without first consulting a vet or Animal Poison Control. Firstly, make sure that the hydrogen peroxide is only 3%, if it is a higher percentage then do not administer to your dog ever. Once receiving the approval of professionals for an emergency situation, You’re ready to administer. The AKC recommends administering orally one teaspoon per 5 pounds of your dog’s body weight.
Milk of Magnesia
If you wish to give your dog some relief from ingestion, indigestion, and other gastrointestinal worries, milk of magnesia can be the perfect aid. According to AnimalSafety, they recommend for you to “administer 1 – 2 teaspoons (5 – 10 mL) orally every 4 – 5 hours or as directed by a veterinarian”. It is always better to directly contact a vet to see if they recommend the aid firstly and their dosage recommendation. Other health issues may mean that your vet does not recommend this product.
If you ever need to administer your dog an oral solution, a syringe is a very useful tool to have. It can easily allow you to draw up the liquid to the correct measurement. This is because it will have measurement lines and readings on the side of the syringe. Tip the oral solution upside down after entering the syringe and drain out the required amount.
If you drain out too much, don’t worry, just enter that back into the bottle using the syringe. Once you have the correct amount, squirt this into your dog’s mouth. Make sure you do this gently so you do not cause them to cough or shoot it down their throat! Often it is advised to squirt it under their tongue if possible.
A towel is a very useful piece of equipment. From drying and keeping your dog warm in the cold to minimizing blood loss, it can be used in many situations. Make sure the towel is large enough to cover your dog if needs be. Also ensure that the material is soft and absorbent, harsh material may be painful for injured dogs.
Furthermore, the towel should always be cleaned after use, otherwise it could lead to contamination. If a dog towel is left in a container damp with dirt and blood on it, bacteria will quickly breed and increase the possibility of an infection to your dog if used again.
Collapsible Travel Bowl
From aiding dehydration to allowing your dog some food to take with their meds, a collapsible travel bowl is a good choice. These bowls will collapse for easy storage in your dog’s first aid kit but expand to hold a large amount of water or food. Why not allow your dog to eat food off the floor though? This can allow for their meds to be lost and their food to become contaminated. Of course, dogs will eat food off the ground, but an unwell dog should try to be kept as clean as possible, including through diet.
Food and Treats
This is an obvious add on for any dog first aid checklist. Treats and foods can act as a great distraction while administering medicine to your dog. You can even use them when wrapping a wound to prevent your dog from pulling off gauze or bandages.
Furthermore, you can hide medicine in treats and food for picky dogs. This is why we recommend a sealed can of wet dog food as slipping meds into them is much easier. However, small chewy or crunchy treats are a great bonus to keep in the kit as a distraction or an element to praise a well behaved and stressed pup.
A flashlight can be used, most obviously, to look at or find your pet in the dark. They may be injured during a late-night walk. Or, they may vomit outside at night and you want to check there is no blood in the vomit. A small battery-powered flashlight will let you check your pup is healthy and well or identify anything that is wrong. However, a flashlight can also be good to use during the day. Checking out your dog’s teeth or inner mouth may need an added source of light and this is why a flashlight is handy in so many situations.
You can use tweezers to remove splinters, ticks, and even debris from wounds. It”s usefulness spans across many different areas. Tick removal can avoid a costly vet visit, but only if you remove them correctly. Make sure to clamp the tweezers around the head as close to the skin as possible. You want to avoid leaving the mouthpiece which can lead to an infection. Pull slowly but firmly.
Similarly, if you are removing a splinter, make sure you have a firm grasp on it before you attempt to pull. This should minimize the pain for your pup. And if you have any worries or doubts, call the vets.
A soft muzzle prevents your dog from biting or chewing you or equipment, whilst still allowing them to eat and drink as normal. They also do not prevent their normal breathing. This is a great tool to use if your dog becomes aggressive due to fear or pain. It allows you to still treat and care for them whilst remaining safe yourself. A soft muzzle is a cheap and easy purchase and can easily fit in your dog medkit.
Dog First Aid Checklist – FAQs
We have answered a further four questions so we can ensure you know everything you need to about a dog first aid checklist.
This all depends on what is wrong with your dog. However, if you want a general first aid understanding you can consider enrolling yourself in a dog first aid course. These will teach you the basics from the proper way to wrap a bandage to administering meds. You also have the choice to pursue a more advanced course and learn as much as you want to.
You can use dog-specific first aid spray on your dog. Follow the instructions for the appropriate use to create a protective layer over any minor cut or scrape. They also provide antiseptic properties to minimize the chance of an infection and help with healing.
Each first aid spray is slightly different from the other. From the dosage to the distance you need between your dog’s wound and the spray, never just assume. Furthermore, if your dog has any wound but small, a spray is not good enough. This requires immediate veterinary care.
We would strongly recommend putting together a first aid kit for your dog. They can minimize pain, help with healing, and even aid your pet’s survival chances in emergency situations. Not owning a dog first aid kit is taking a chance with your pup’s life. Why would any owner want to make this gamble? If you can afford the proper care for your dog, a first aid kit should be on that list.
A first aid kit can not replace the skill and knowledge that a vet possesses. However, they can help to prevent unnecessary vet visits and aiding healing at home. It all depends o the severity of your dog’s health. Overall, a vet’s opinion and care are irreplaceable.
A dog first aid checklist is a must-have for any dog owner. It prepares for the worst-case scenario and allows you to make sure your pet is well taken care of and in minimal pain during an unprecedented event.